At a covert school specializing in the art of coercion, a band of outsiders train to become "poets": seducers fit to brand language as a weapon of mind control.  But verbiage soon turns violent, in Max Barry's addictive avant-garde thriller.

April 19: "What you see first, after the starting gun's crack, is a column of bobbing runners, thousands of them, surging downhill..."

Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch is the winner of the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. James Parker calls this Dickensian coming-of-age novel "an enveloping…